Mama and me, 1990. 

Mama and me, 1990. 

Today I want to share with you my calling and how I finally answered it. I’m a creativity coach: I help people take their creativity (how you work) and creative output (what the world sees) to the next level.

As often is the case with callings, I didn’t decide on mine. Actually, I dug my heels in and totally resisted becoming a coach. The realization that I’ve been coaching since age four, that I access some force outside myself when helping someone get to where they want to be… it came to me in pieces over ten years.

I grew up with South Korean immigrant parents. It wasn’t until recently that I truly internalized how much they sacrificed to come to the States. They built their American Dream slowly and precariously via small blue-collar businesses. In Seoul, my mom was a talented ceramicist and my dad dreamt of becoming an archaeologist. Equal parts life of the mind and hands. They never talk about their abandoned aspirations; I can tell it pains them. When you uproot yourself and replant in a new country with almost nothing, you grit your teeth and hustle, at absolute minimum. Generally, you tend to live in fear: fear that you’re getting scammed, fear that you didn’t understand a crucial instruction/document, fear that your kids are falling in with bad people.

My research and practice as a coach has taught me this: fear and anxiety are swift, ruthless killers of creativity and dreams. Fear sucked my parents’ energy, thus playful experimentation was quickly relegated to distant memory. In contrast, I consider creativity to be my lifeblood, a non-negotiable. Many times I am overwhelmed by this privilege I enjoy thanks to their sacrifices.

Our family struggled financially for years, so having hobbies felt like a ridiculous luxury to my mom. But she never failed to squirrel away money for my creative development. She scoured course schedules and bulletin boards at the public library and local community centers for how the muses might contact me. In broken English, she enrolled me in then chauffeured me to ballet, tap, jazz, gymnastics, art, music, creative writing, tae kwon do, swimming, drama and foreign language classes.

For decades, my mother felt conflicted about doing things that lit her up, so she didn’t. I learned the importance of being creative from her counter-example. Certainly, creativity is broad and encompasses many acts; she found a new outlet in motherhood: making our home, feeding us, educating us. But at her core, my mom is an artist. She’s insatiably curious about how the world works and loved to play those ideas out with the aid of form, process, technique. There is a kind of withering that happens when you do not or cannot nurture that side of yourself.

Bearing witness to that kind of withering is why I’m obsessed with the creative process and the people who not only employ it, but live it. Human beings are hard-wired to create — whether it be a work of art, music, profitable business, story, meaningful service, family, or community. When you access your unique creative DNA, life expands in mind-bending ways.

I’m telling you this because so many people confess to me they feel stuck and don’t know how to move forward. I’m telling you this deliberately on Facebook because I myself have spent too many anxious, procrastinatory, creatively-constipated moments on this thing — from when I had a deeply unfulfilling job, to when I was frozen in fear about putting myself out there and starting my coaching business. My hunch is you have these moments too. Where are you feeling stuck right now? I can help. 🙏🏼